Omar Waraich: The only people who want Musharraf back are his enemies

Analysis

Share
Related Topics

The contrast could scarcely have been more striking.

When Pervez Musharraf entered politics in 1999, he was an army chief, seizing power in a bloodless coup. Now Pakistan's former military ruler is reduced to making a feeble second attempt thousands of miles away in London, to barely a hall full of people.

Deploying his characteristically brusque tones, Mr Musharraf said there was a need to "bring all patriotic people under one flag, that flag should be the All Pakistan Muslim League." The reference was the name of his new party, one he had to assemble after his supporters in Pakistan deserted him. Mr Musharraf said that he would return to Pakistan, with the same uneasy insistence with which he used to claim he would never leave.

Mr Musharraf boasted he remains popular in Pakistan and stood a chance at returning to the presidency. "Illusion," observed Oscar Wilde, "is the first of all pleasures." That at least is how many Pakistanis regarded yesterday's launch. After nearly nine years in power, he has left behind bitter memories of military rule, once-loyal generals and politicians keen to distance themselves from his legacy, and charges ranging from political assassination to stoking extremism – even high treason for violating the constitution.

Few think he will return. "Musharraf will remain away from Pakistan for many years," said a senior Western diplomat. His former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, agreed: "He has no political base here. He won't be able to move around because of the security risk. Even the programme he's offering is what he said he'd do in power. He failed then, he has no chance now."

Excitable television news channels resisted treating the launch as a serious event. Some ran montages recalling his taste for the good life. Others interviewed opponents who vented a litany of criticisms.

"There's one thing to be army chief in Pakistan and another to enter politics as an ex-general," said former cricket legend Imran Khan. "Gen Musharraf will notice that difference if he does return."

That's not to say Pakistanis are not looking forward to Mr Musharraf, if for the reasons that will keep him away. The Baluch leaders want him tried for the 2006 assassination of Akbar Bugti. In the southern province of Sindh, supporters of the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto have questions about his failure to provide adequate security, as outlined in the UN's report.

In the Punjab, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would like him tried for "high treason" for the 1999 coup and imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. And in the northwest, he is blamed for allowing militancy to mushroom though deals with the Taliban.

"He's united the country," said Talat Hussain, a senior journalist. "But it's united against him."

One person who may smile on the prospect of Mr Musharraf returning is President Asif Ali Zardari, as it would divert hostile attention from his struggling government.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?